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July 08, 2016

Manchester, England

Welcome to Manchester, one of England's busiest, most historic cities. Its rich history in both industry and football make it a major player in England for locals and tourists alike. Hell, even the age-old Coronation Street soap opera is filmed and based out of Manchester.
The United Trinity - George Best, Denis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton.
The foundations of the city are industrious, hardworking people. My first foray here as a young teenager was very eye opening as we drove through the countless factories to reach a rough community pitch where we'd be playing against two local football clubs. We (a select team from Nova Scotia, Canada) were trounced on the day but I was able to take away the player of the game nods and a club banner from Boundary Park FC - great memories.

Now with that bit of background, you'll understand my main draw to Manchester being football...but even I was shocked at just how much more the city had going for it.

The United Trinity - George Best, Denis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton.
For example, the National Football Museum, something that would surely be housed in London one would think. Or the endless upscale shopping and dining. Plus the local universities with top notch programs. Manchester really was night and day now for the young man who'd been here the decade previous.
During my weekend stay, my accommodations were at Ashton House, which did its job as a hostel but was nothing special. As advertised we'll say and a plus for them they helped me sort out some mail with my football tickets. As doe transit, the local trains are more than adequate and are all you'll need to see all of Greater Manchester.

I was lucky enough to attend a quite special dinner for a Manchester United fan club who were hosting the former England National Team and Manchester United Captain, Bryan Robson. A great night with friends and meeting a footballing legend. This coincided perfectly with revisiting the incredible museum at Old Trafford (stadium for Manchester United Football Club), which showcases the immense history, honours and transitions since Manchester United's origins in 1902 (Newton Heath from 1878-1902).

This Spring time trip meant very favourable weather. Sunny most days and mid-teen to low twenties temperatures. Perfect to catch my heroes playing at Old Trafford! This time around, the May match was against a major rival in Chelsea FC from London. At this point in the season, United had all but won the Premier League title so the result wasn't crucial. There are two major clubs in Manchester (United & City) so be sure to take in a game if at all possible - both clubs stadiums hold 50,000+ spectators.

The weekend ended with a frantic sprint back from Old Trafford to the national rail station in the city centre only to board the train and discover I would never get to my assigned and paid for seat. Trains are at times drastically over sold, like flights, but in a crunch still get you from point A to B. Add Manchester to your itinerary, but not just for sport, for so much more.

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